A look back on 2016, looking forward


Last year around this time, we were driving around the island of Oahu thinking about pizza for New Year’s Eve. This year, my husband’s ringing in the new year with his Nearly Dan band and a fully loaded audience, and my son’s resting from a night of puking his guts out.

Me, I’m doing what I always do, watching a “Twilight Zone” marathon, picking at different plates of junk food, completely dissatisfied and disgusted with myself, and reaching out to a few friends in my radar.

Personally, I don’t do New Year’s Eve resolutions or retrospectives. I think they’re silly. Plus, who are you to tell me how to act one day out of the year? Fuck the holidays.

Nevertheless, I got into yearly retrospectives when writing those “Best of” music lists for AXS. (Have you read this yet?) So, here goes…


Everyone seemed to hate this year. I started falling in line with that too until I stepped back and took stock of what actually happened in my life. Sure, being sicker than I’ve ever remembered for almost two straight months sucked, and watching my dear friend Jimmy Borges finally give up the ghost didn’t ease my constant loneliness either.

I’m also vaguely aware that I tend to live for and through others when I do look back. Most of my 2016 highlights involve my family, namely, my son’s various exploits. Hey, I’m a giver…

What about me?

Precious little. Let’s see…

I visited Hawaii for the holidays, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 9, 2016. The last time I stepped foot back in the islands was 2010 for my husband’s high school reunion. A lot’s changed there since my childhood, for the worst. The place is even more crowded with Japanese transplants and tourists, and their requisite designer label boutiques than ever before.

Then, there’s the dismal homeless situation, the worst in the country. I recently read that the increase could be attributed directly to the military making deals so its soldiers could continue bombing the Pacific islands, using them as testing sites for nuclear weapons. The displaced Pacific islanders, especially the Micronesians, have nowhere else to go, so they come to Hawaii as the first and easiest stop. They were promised a lot more than the U.S. military bothered to provide.

Aaron Wiener of Mother Jones detailed the plight in his Dec. 29, 2016 feature. What an absolute fucking mess.

“Later that year, in 1946, the military dropped two nuclear bombs on Bikini, kicking off a 12-year detonation of the equivalent of 7,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs in the Marshall Islands, an archipelago of more than 1,000 Micronesian islands clustered around 29 coral atolls (ring-shaped reefs encircling lagoons). The residents of Bikini would never be able to return permanently to their former home, now hopelessly contaminated by radiation. US political leaders were not always sympathetic to the displacement of Micronesians that they’d engineered. ‘There are only 90,000 of them out there,’ Henry Kissinger would later say about the relocation of Marshall Islands residents for missile testing. ‘Who gives a damn?'”

Hawaii’s also completely polluted, indistinguishable from L.A. or Hong Kong. Job well done, visitor industry! Take a bow!

I also revisited Cannon Beach with my husband on Spring Break, then visited recently transplanted friends down in Phoenix for Thanksgiving Week. Those were rushed getaways, but very welcome.

My husband and I also enjoyed a 26th wedding anniversary dinner at this restaurant we’d always longed to try in downtown Seattle. Andaluca was as swanky and glorious as we’d imagined peering through the windows and poring over the menu, a mix of Mediterranean-influenced French cuisine. The paella there is the best I’ve ever had; probably as close to Spain as I’ll get.

After 16 years, I quit covering soaps. I also quit Facebook. I lost my regular, paid gig as an AXS beat writer after two solid years of hustling hard work, but kept my contributor status.

A week before my Thanksgiving trip, a mutual musician friend in Hawaii emailed me out of the blue to offer me a job editing and writing for the musicians union newsletter there, which probably means a few working trips back to brush up on my layout design skills and actively pursuing stories. Aloha!

I made significant inroads socially — a big, big deal for this recluse.

I went against the crowd and sought out friendships, some in danger of going kaput permanently due to misunderstandings. It was the first time I was okay with having one-on-one friends without the popular crowd. Meaning, I didn’t give a fuck what anyone else thought. If you’re my friend, you’re my friend.

I made new friends too, from my son’s Rush soccer team, and tried to sustain my old friends.

I have this weird quirk. Call it premonition, paranoia, OC-D. But every so often, a voice will compel me to pick up the phone and check in on someone. Oftentimes, I haven’t spoken to that someone in ages. Every time I’ve listened to my inner voice, I’ve been so glad. PS. That inner voice writes itself in many jazz articles and reviews.

Internally, I’m making peace with the more annoying parts of my personality, as well as trying very hard to chill out so I can enjoy the life I compulsively try to document.

When I find myself amping out over stupid shit, or over-worrying about my son’s health, I’ll tell myself to calm down, I’ll take a few deep breaths, and leave the future up to G-d or the universe.

I’ve done fairly well, give or take a few bumps.

When my son reported feeling unwell earlier this week, I didn’t overreact or bug him every five minutes with the same damned questions about his symptoms. I didn’t even reach for the sanitizer. When, days later, he reported feeling really unwell, as in very nauseous — my second worst fear — I took it in stride, making a mental note to keep an eye out for any worsening symptoms.

Earlier tonight, when H-Mart was out of my favorite Korean sushi gim bap and sweet mochi, I didn’t freak out, either. I simply picked up an order of spring rolls, grabbed a Thai iced tea, and my first batch of Papa Beard cream puffs. Headache gone!

I should be chilling out with some Triscuits and apples right now instead of writing this. But give me time to work on the rest of me.

2017 Resolutions:

Love myself.

New York City.

130-140 pounds.

Afghan for Gen.

A book by me.


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